Late Monday afternoon, an interesting pair of tweets came through the Twitter timeline of ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter regarding the Los Angeles Chargers and a certain woebegone quarterback.
RGIII scheduled to work out Tuesday for LA Chargers, per league source. Been training in Florida with former Browns asst. Pep Hamilton.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2017
Tuesday’s workout with Chargers will be Robert Griffin III’s first team visit this off-season. Had another visit lined up but cancelled it.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2017
With training camp only a couple weeks away, it looks like the Chargers are taking the time to look at upgrading their quarterback situation. On Tuesday, July 25, the Los Angeles Chargers will bring in former superstar quarterback Robert Griffin III in for a workout. Bringing Griffin in is a no-risk proposition. Right now, the Chargers backup quarterbacks are Kellen Clemens, 2016 undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici and 2017 undrafted free agent Eli Jenkins.
Griffin exploded onto the NFL scene as the number two overall selection of the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Baylor. His electrifying play caused many sleepless nights for opposing defenses and defensive coordinators as he looked to be the second coming of Michael Vick. He had a rocket for an arm and scintillating speed for a quarterback.
Griffins’ play catapulted him to the 2012 Rookie of the Year award and led the Redskins into the playoffs. A right knee injury suffered in the playoffs ended the Redskins hopes and Griffins’ career went into freefall immediately thereafter. After reconstructive knee surgery, and multiple other injuries Griffin slowly lost grip on his starting role to present Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins and was released at the end of the 2015 season.
The Cleveland Browns added Griffin to their roster on a two-year, $15 million deal. A shoulder injury landed the veteran on the injured reserve list after only five games. The Browns cut Griffin on March 10, 2017.
With all the talk of out-of-work quarterbacks centered on Colin Kaepernick, Griffin has been almost completely off the radar. This is the first signs of interest he Griffin has had aside from the aforementioned cancelled visit with an unnamed team. At this point, Griffin has no leverage and will have to exist onveteran minimum, one- or two-year ‘prove-it’ deals until he can show he can still play and last a season without getting injured.
What do you think of the Chargers bringing in Griffin for a workout? Should they sign him? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Finally! The deal is done and the Chargers have signed their first-round draft pick. But is that enough news after the large media circus that surrounded this issue, turning fans against Joey Bosa? For some fans, a name signed on a contract is not going to be enough to ease their frustration over the whole situation. Bosa will have to prove himself, not just on the field, but off it, as well; to show that he is worth more than just the money received when he signed on the dotted line, but also the love of the fanbase.
So what he should do?
- Get involved in the community: They say any press is good press, but the best press is usually where outsiders can see the character of the individual. If Joey gets involved in the community, it will show the citizens of San Diego that he is not just the spoiled brat that the media portrayed him to be. There are many ways to get involved in the community, such as picking up trash on the beach, signing autographs with sick children or participating in food drives.
- Prove it on the field: After holding out for as long as he did and missing almost the entire preseason, the Chargers organization needs to see if this is truly a good investment. As we all saw from Johnny Manziel, how well they did in college does not always transfer to the NFL. No one is expecting him to come right out of the gate and be the next Ray Lewis or JJ Watt, but as long as he can show promise and determination, he should be fine.
- Earn respect from his teammates: As many saw from the Denver Broncos last season, defensive chemistry is a must if you expect to make the playoffs or have a winning record. He must show his teammates that he is the missing piece to this defense.
The point is the media, as usual, blew all of this way out of proportion, even to the point of predicting trades. It is going to be an uphill battle for Bosa; not just getting his body “football ready,” per his words, but also winning over his teammates and the fan base at large.
Though this may seem to be a bit of an uphill battle for the former Buckeye, there are plenty of reasons why this young man was taken with the third overall pick in this year’s draft. Starting with his first snap of live play, Bosa will remain under the microscope until he takes care of the aforementioned items above.
Again, get involved in the community, make plays on the field, thus, earning the respect of his teammates, and we’ll all soon forget the tumultuous offseason surrounding one of the highest draft picks the organization has selected in many years.
Quite frankly, we at BoltBlitz.com expect him to take care of business, showing everyone that he not only belongs on this team, he will earn the right to be called a solid pick and huge contributor for many years to come.
The hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.
After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.
At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.
Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:
August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.
August 15, 2014: Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.
Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.
The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.
Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.
Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.
Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”
Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.
I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.
What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
We are just 48 hours away from the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, live from Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. Picking third, we all now know that the draft truly begins with our beloved San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have the luxury of knowing the first two selections will be quarterbacks, giving them pick-of-the-litter among all the non-quarterback players.
To quote a famous line from comic book lore: With great power comes great responsibility.
The Chargers can not miss with this pick. This must be a player who will be a mainstay for the next decade provided he can stay healthy. We all know that is easier said than done in San Diego. This man must be a building block of the future, someone who can step into a starter’s role from game number one.
Many intriguing storylines are attached to the 2016 edition of the NFL Draft. Here’s a look at the biggest ones on everyone’s minds and lips heading into Thursday night.
1. What will the Chargers do?
San Diego can enlist a franchise player from this spot but will they? Temptation will be heavy to trade down and try to add picks and value. If the Bolts trade down and add picks, the chances of hitting on a prospect increase. The risk is passing on the next big superstar/future Hall Of Fame enshrinee. What to do, what to do…
As we’ve already seen, quarterbacks drive the action in this draft. The number one and two selections have exchanged teams. More movement to acquire the top five quarterbacks on the board will occur, most likely in the first round. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff will undoubtedly go in the first two picks. Expect Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg to be drafted in round one.
Aside from the rookies, don’t be surprised to see Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick traded in the first round. The Philadelphia Eagles (Bradford) and San Francisco 49ers Kaepernick) find themselves in the same boat. Both teams have quarterbacks that don’t want to play for them anymore. Both quarterbacks have plummeted on the field and in overall value. Will the two teams make the best of their bad situations and swap headaches (err…quarterbacks) especially after new 49ers coach Chip Kelly was just fired by the Eagles.
Whether it’s an even exchange or not, the Niners would be helping the coach that has set back their organization untold years. (Insert dramatic music here…) Quarterback desperate teams will rule the first two days of the draft. Sleeper team to be a player in the quarterback sweepstakes: The New England Patriots. You heard it here first.
3. Ole Miss players
There are always players that fall from grace in the draft. It’s most likely that player will come out of Ole Miss. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is considered the best offensive lineman on the board in the last five years. Robert Nkemdiche was the chosen one for the number one pick in the draft just six months ago. A handful of off-the-field incidents later, he is not expected to go until the second round or worse. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is the top-rated wide receiver prospect in the draft despite an unimpressive 4.6 40-yard dash time.
The NFL won its appeal and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will serve his four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate scandal after all. This dark cloud will manifest itself multiple times during the proceedings, starting with the fact the first round will only be 31 selections due to the Patriots losing their first round draft pick. With the news dropping just 72 hours before the draft, it is sure to be a hot button issue all week long. As mentioned above, this news could also precipitate a move by the Patriots on the quarterback front.
5. Winners and losers
Every year, the talking heads will compile their winners and losers list for the draft as a whole. Some teams will reach way to high for a head-scratcher of a pick. One team will get the ‘steal of the draft’. We’ll all comb the internet and sports channels for the draftniks’ grades of each team.
We all know what’s coming, and like Christmas, we can’t wait for it to get here. We’re anxiously anticipating Roger Goodell taking the podium to thunderous boos as he announces the 2016 NFL Draft is underway and the Los Angeles Rams are on the clock.
The themes are the same, only the names will change. We’ll ogle a players’ smoking hot girlfriend. We’ll shake our head at a couple of players’ choices of suits. We’ll see that big name player plummeting down the draft board and keep a curious watch on how far he slides as if rubbernecking at the site of a car crash. We will watch every pick and celebrate the entire three hours like we’ve never seen it before.
Because football, that’s why.
Are YOU ready?
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers look to improve a defense that ranked 10th in total defense (4th vs. pass, 26th vs. run). Of the Chargers’ five draft picks, four were made on defense. Today we’ll take a look at the cornerback position and how the Bolts will look to improve on a pass defense that received little support in the form of a pass rush from the front-seven. Here’s a look at who the Chargers have in camp at the present time:
Brandon Flowers: The 29-year-old made an instant impact after he signed last offseason after being released by Kansas City in a cost-cutting move. He made the most of his one-year ‘prove it’ contract, and re-signed with the Chargers on a four-year, $36 million deal.
According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers was the number one cornerback in the NFL for the first eight weeks of the season before he missed games with numerous injuries including concussion, groin and ankle maladies. He managed to perform in 14 of the Chargers 16 games despite being banged up, recording 52 tackles (48 solo), three interceptions and 10 passes defensed. Now entering his eighth season, Flowers looks forward to continuing his ‘big brother’ role to the Bolts’ young group of cornerbacks.
Jason Verrett: The 2014 first-round draft pick was having an excellent season opposite Flowers until his year was cut short by a torn labrum in week six. The resilient rookie tried to return in week eight against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but only succeeded in aggravating the injury. The Chargers placed him on IR after week 10.
Flowers and Verrett ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Pro Football Focus cornerback ratings while they played together. Losing both, at times, forced others to step up and fill some “large shoes.” Verrett compiled 19 tackles (18 solo), one dramatic, game-saving, late fourth quarter interception versus Oakland and four passes defensed in six games. A healthy Verrett is going to greatly improve the secondary and he is most likely to man the right corner position opposite Flowers.
Patrick Robinson: A 2010 first-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints, Patrick Robinson signed a one-year contract with San Diego in March. In five seasons, he’s logged 180 tackles (150 solo), one sack, nine interceptions with one forced fumble and 46 passes defensed. Robinson bounced back strong in 2014 after rupturing his patellar tendon in week 2 and missing the rest of the 2013 season.
Last season, Robinson defensed 11 passes with two interceptions and 39 tackles. Robinson also found his way into New Orleans head coach Sean Paytons’ doghouse as he was benched repeatedly. Hopefully, his tenure in San Diego can mirror the second chance Brandon Flowers received. He will be the leading candidate for the number three cornerback in the rotation at this point. It is worth noting that after struggling on the outside, he picked up his play once given the opportunity to play the nickel-spot in the New Orleans’ defense. Robinson may end up be a sleeper signing for the Charger defense.
Steve Williams: Looking to get his career on track, Williams finally found the field in 2014 after missing all of the 2013 season with a pectoral injury. He played in 13 games, recording 10 tackles with two passes defensed. Drafted by the Chargers alongside his college teammate Keenan Allen, the Cal Bear got onto the Chargers radar after exhibiting freakish athleticism at the combine with 4.25 speed in the 40, 10’8″ broad jump and 40.5 inch vertical jump. The Chargers still hold out hope that their 2013 fifth-round choice can fully apply his skills and stay on the field. He should see an opportunity to compete with Robinson for the nickel role, and continue to see snaps on special teams. His speed makes him an asset on both defense and special teams.
Chris Davis: Entering his second year out of Auburn, Davis played in 12 games for the Chargers, contributing mostly on special teams. The team found value in Davis in the kickoff return game, where he averaged 25.1 yards on 19 returns. After assuming those duties in the November 2nd Dolphins’ game, Davis may have found his role as the team’s return specialist. Known for what will arguably stand as the greatest return in college football history in the 2013 Iron Bowl, Davis looks to repeat his success in San Diego while also playing more on defense. Davis has shown flashes of playmaking capability, and he can be an important piece to a championship team if he can sustain his health and continue to improve in 2015.
Craig Mager: When the team’s 2015 third-round draft pick name was announced on day two of the draft, it came with a collective chorus of “Craig Who” on social media and team message boards. But fans, and the league, will soon know his name. The Chargers are very high on the Texas State cornerback. At the combine, Mager ran a 4.44 in the 40, broad-jumped 10’10” and had a 38-inch vertical jump. Mager developed a reputation as an aggressive tackler in the secondary while in college, as he was named to the second team All-Sun Belt Conference for 2014. If he can adjust to the immense jump in talent from a mid-major conference in college football to the elite level of the NFL, Mager will pay dividends sooner rather than later.
Richard Crawford: A new face that will be ready for action, Oceanside native Richard Crawford is a third-year pro. Originally a seventh-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft, Crawford had a successful season culminating with an interception of Tony Romo in week 17; one that clinched the Redskins a playoff spot. His momentum came to an abrupt halt, as he suffered ACL and LCL injuries in the 2013 preseason that caused him to miss the entire season.
Crawford was eventually cut by the Redskins, and then added to the Chargers’ practice squad in week nine of last season. In his one season in Washington, Crawford recorded 18 tackles (13 solo), two passes defensed, one fumble recovery, one interception and also contributed on special teams. His 64-yard punt return against Baltimore secured the field position needed to kick a game-winning field goal. As a result, the ‘Skins got the overtime win over their in-state rival. Crawford will provide healthy competition for cornerback and punt return duties.
Greg Ducre: Still looking to make an impact, Ducre is a second-year pro out of Washington. Last season, Ducre signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent. He was signed off the practice squad by the Washington Redskins. In a two-month span, he played one regular season game and was then released by Washington the next day. The Chargers then re-signed Ducre to the active roster where he has remained ever since.
Ducre adds a much-needed speed element to the Chargers secondary. At Washington’s pro day, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 and 4.34 seconds. He recorded a 35-inch vertical jump and 10’6″ broad jump. In the one game he played for Washington against San Francisco, he recorded an interception of Colin Kaepernick. His athleticism speaks for itself. But can he do it if called upon to do so in San Diego? Ducre faces an uphill battle to find his way onto the roster.
Manuel Asprilla: The undrafted free agent out of Boston College did not miss a game after getting to play three games into his freshman season at BC. A tackling machine, gathering 201 tackles (142 solo) and 15 tackles for loss. Asprilla had four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 23 passes defensed over his collegiate career. It will be a long shot for Asprilla to make the 53-man roster, but the Chargers have a long history of finding undrafted free agent gems. Practice squad is always a possibility.
This crop of cornerbacks has a boom-or-bust feel to them. If Flowers and Verrett can stay healthy all season, they can again be an upper top-10 tandem that could give the Chargers a legitimate top-10 defense. With a year of experience in the system, it stands to reason, that both will be even better than last season. San Diego missed the playoffs by one game last season. That tandem could have made up that one game.
Robinson was a great signing and will contribute right away. The rest of the field are all athletic freaks with speed to burn and off-the-charts leaping ability. When you consider the fact the Bolts don’t have a single member of the secondary that stands six-feet-tall or better, physically gifted athletes are a necessity when you look around the league at the tall, fast wideouts in the league now.
This is a group that will be charged with facing the best receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson, in week one. In week two, they will have to cover A. J. Green. They stand 6’5″ and 6’4″ and run 4.35 & 4.5 respectively. Add in a double shot of Demaryius Thomas, plus Jordy Nelson (both 6’3″), and it’s easy to see the Chargers’ secondary will be tested all season. Paired with Eric Weddle and the group of safeties he leads, the Bolts will boast a formidable secondary; if they can stay healthy and improve on their woeful takeaway totals (seven interceptions, one safety, 11 fumble recoveries).
This is a group that is full of promise, but can they deliver? What do you think Bolt Nation?
The Greg One
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is not certain where he’ll be playing in 2016 and not just because of the team’s shaky stadium situation in San Diego.
In case you missed it, Rivers talked with the U-T San Diego about his future with the team.
Basically said he’s committed to playing out his contract with the Bolts, which expires after the 2015 season, but is unsure whether he’ll sign a new contract or try to work out an extension before training camp starts in July.
One of the reasons is, of course, family. Philip and his wife Tiffany have built a family in San Diego and if a move is necessary they will likely try to make it back South (both are from Alabama) instead of Los Angeles.
Add that revelation to the fact the Chargers are bringing in Oregon QB Marcus Mariota for a workout in April, and all of a sudden you have grounds for some serious speculation on a major overhaul of the Chargers offense.
So, let’s remove the emotion from the situation and sort some of it out logically.
First and foremost, the Chargers want to keep Rivers in place. General Manager Tom Telesco came from Indianapolis. His first year there was 1998, when the Colts drafted Peyton Manning. His last year there was 2012, when they took Andrew Luck. If anybody understands the importance of having a franchise quarterback in place, it’s Telesco (You can hear for yourself how Tom feels about Rivers in the video attached to this story, which was recorded December 31, 2014).
Telesco says he thinks Rivers has a number of good years left in him. The recent signings of Stevie Johnson and Orlando Franklin would suggest the Bolts still consider Rivers the key to their offense. For now, at least. Telesco also said he’s committed to Rivers retiring as a Charger.
But, what if Rivers is not? Then what do the Chargers do?
Bolts fans don’t have to think too far back to see what happened the last time the team let a QB walk out of town while getting nothing in return. In about 10 years they’ll see it on the bust of Drew Brees in Canton, OH. Rivers blossoming into a star eased the pain of Brees’ success, but the odds of having three Pro Bowl (and possibly Hall of Fame) caliber passers in a row are astronomical.
Here’s where Mariota enters the mix.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is going to have a private workout for the Bolts’ brass. Mariota’s athletic skill set could not be more different than Rivers, but having him learn for a year under #17 (who has already spent time coaching the youngster before the NFL Combine) would not be a bad thing.
If Telesco gets the vibe he’s not going to be able to retain Rivers long-term, he needs to be looking out for his franchise, and he could certainly do worse than adding someone as talented as Mariota.
Of course, that opens the question of … how would the Chargers get their hands on Mariota? He’s projected to be long gone before the Bolts make their selection in this year’s Draft (and no, the irony of that pick being #17 has not been lost). So, the Chargers would have to make a trade up.
Assuming Tampa Bay selects Jameis Winston first overall (which they’ve said publicly they’re leaning towards), the next team up also has serious QB issues: Tennessee. The Titans are quite the interesting possibility.
Ken Whisenhunt is their head coach. In 2013, he had a tremendous relationship with Rivers while serving as San Diego’s offensive coordinator. He would love to get his hands on Philip. However, sources close to the Titans tell me they’d be “shocked” if Tennessee traded the second overall pick for Rivers.
The Titans have a bunch of holes to fill. They are not one QB away from being true contenders. So, if they do deal the number two pick, it will be to stockpile other picks, and the Chargers are not likely to make that kind of gamble when they have as many issues to address as they do (o-line, d-line, running back, linebacker, etc.).
Looking at the rest of the NFL Draft order, there aren’t many teams who will use a pick on a quarterback:
3) Jacksonville – took Blake Bortles last year
4) Oakland – took Derek Carr last year
5) Washington – still don’t know what to do with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy
6) NY Jets – ABSOLUTELY NEED A QB
7) Chicago – Possibility here. Jay Cutler could be released in another year
8) Atlanta – Matt Ryan
9) NY Giants – Eli Manning
10) St. Louis – just traded for Nick Foles but still a possibility
11) Minnesota – took Teddy Bridgewater last year
12) Cleveland – took Johnny Manziel last year
13) New Orleans – Drew Brees
14) Miami – Ryan Tannehill, although it’s possible they’re not 100% sold on him
15) San Francisco – Colin Kaepernick, basically the same style as Mariota
16) Houston – definitely in the market for a QB
So, the Chargers might not have to deal Rivers to get their hands on Mariota. If he falls far enough in the first round, they could conceivably move up just a couple of spots and not sacrifice too much (of course, the Eagles are lurking at #20 and, despite what Chip Kelly says about Sam Bradford, he’d make a more for his former recruit).
So you see there are a lot of moving pieces in play that would have to line up for Marcus Mariota to land in San Diego.
The other part of this whole scenario is this: The Chargers offense is built around Philip Rivers. If he is shockingly dealt before this year, or allowed to leave after the 2015 season, a whole lot of guys will go with him.
Antonio Gates, also a free agent, will leave. Eric Weddle, also a free agent, will leave. Those guys are not going to wait around for a rebuild; they’ve been through enough already. The entire identity of the Chargers, the franchise as we know it, will cease to exist. It will signal a complete personality change for the franchise.
Now, you can crack your jokes about that being perfect for a team playing in a new city, but the fact is this is a defining moment in Chargers history, not just off the field, but on it, as well.
Today, the San Diego Chargers made news by signing free agent wide receiver Stevie Johnson. Last week Johnson visited Chargers Park and finished his recruitment tour in Foxboro with the Patriots. After taking the weekend to decide, the wideout signed a three-year deal, becoming the newest Charger.
Johnson played in San Francisco last season, the previous six seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He played in 13 games and had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson’s career was trending upward during a three-year span from the 2010 to 2012 seasons. In each of those three seasons he had over 1000 yards receiving and averaged 79 catches.
The decline in his numbers could be attributed to poor quarterback play. Last season, Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a down season statistically and San Francisco was 20th in the league in total offense. In Buffalo he was catching balls from journeyman Kyle Orton and subpar rookie E.J. Manuel. In San Diego, he will easily have the best quarterback of his career throwing him the ball in Philip Rivers.
Johnson’s signing is the Chargers answer to losing receiver Eddie Royal to the Chicago Bears. Royal had a big year playing from the slot, catching 62 passes for 778 yards and seven touchdowns. Johnson will be expected to take Royals’ spot in the offense and replace his production. In Buffalo, he played primarily from the slot and put up great numbers.
At 6’2, 207 he has shown the ability to use his frame to shake tackles and get yards after the catch. His presence will stretch the field as he and Antonio Gates patrol the middle of the field and Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd man the edges.
From the looks of things, the 28-year old Johnson has managed to stay healthy most of his career. The 49ers cut him as a salary cap move. The Bills traded him for a draft conditional fourth round draft pick that ultimately became a third round pick. He played every game of the aforementioned three-year stretch from 2010-2012. Aside from a rib injury in 2009, he’s been able to stay on the field and avoid the knee, ankle, hamstring and quad injuries that result in missed games and seemingly plague all receivers.
Will he return to his 2010-12 form with Rivers at the helm? Does he still have the ability to carve defenses and be a legitimate deep threat the way he was in Buffalo? The front office is hoping that is the case. During that time, he was a charismatic, fun-loving, free-spirited, celebration dancing, undershirt writing showboat in the mold of Terrell Owens and Chad Ocho Cinco. In San Diego, he will be a starter as long as he can produce. If he’s celebrating, that means he’s scoring and we’ll all be happy with that. Let’s hope that is the case.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Do you like this signing?
The Greg One
A little over a month ago, the Chargers were off to a 5-1 start and coming in at number one in multiple NFL power rankings. Those regards have long since disappeared as San Diego comes out of their bye week looking to end a three game losing streak. The now 5-4 Chargers are no longer on anyone’s lips. No one is talking about Philip Rivers’ chances for league MVP. All the eyes are on the Broncos, Patriots and Colts as the class of the AFC if not the league.
That’s a good thing. Keep moving, nothing to see here.
That hot start disappeared as the injuries mounted and the Chargers found themselves playing a brutal schedule of three games in 14 days against teams (KC, Denver, Miami) that are all in the playoff mix as of now.
The bye week, no matter when in the season it occurs, always seems to happen when it needs to happen. The Chargers desperately needed that two weeks off to get bodies out of the trainers room and back onto the field. These are key bodies that were instrumental in the Bolts 5-1 start. Such a thing has happened as its been reported that the Chargers will regain many starters who have been out of action for a long while.
The anemic running game gets a shot in the arm as the Chargers top two running backs, Ryan Mathews and Donald Brown return. The hobbled right tackle DJ Fluker has had time to regain full strength. On defense, returning playmakers Dwight Freeney, Jeremiah Attaochu, Mantei Teo and Melvin Ingram will bolster the defensive line. Brandon Flowers will add much-needed punch to a struggling secondary. Safety Jahleel Addae will also return once he clears concussion testing.
The San Diego Chargers are gone. The San Diego SUPER CHARGERS are back!
While the rest of the world expects the Chargers to disappear along with the other also-rans, expect San Diego to hit their stride. Here’s the way I see the rest of their season playing out.
Week 11- Oakland
It had the feel of a homecoming game for the Chargers. Coming out of the bye week on a three-game losing streak punctuated by the sting of a 37-0 beatdown by the Dolphins still in the air, who better to begin the second half of the season against than the Raiders? Though it was an ugly win, it was a win and a step in the right direction.
Week 12- St. Louis
The Rams have a strong front seven but their offense is downright horrid. The revitalized Chargers offensive line will keep the Rams linemen at bay while Rivers flings touchdowns. Chargers win 30-15.
Week 13- At Baltimore
The Ravens and Chargers have been mirror images of each other for parts of the season. The difference is the Chargers are now beginning to lap the still helter skelter Ravens. Defense wins the day for the Chargers, 24-17.
Week 14 and 15- New England and Denver
The Chargers true tests will come in these two games. Both home games against the best teams in the AFC. If my prophecy holds, San Diego will be 8-4 heading into the New England game and in the thick of the playoff race. I see the Chargers losing one of these games. I lean toward the New England game as that loss because I figure the Denver games would each go to the home team. For that reason I believe the Patriots will get by the Chargers in a nail biter, 28-27 and the Chargers get revenge against team Manning 27-21.
Week 16- at San Francisco
San Diego heads up the PCH to face a 49ers team that will also be fighting for their playoff lives. This Saturday matchup will be a smashmouth affair. San Francisco should have both their stud pass rushers back in Aldon Smith and Navorro Bowman as both have been gone a majority if not all of the season. The difference in the game will be the offense. Kaepernick is digressing in games and the speed on the Chargers (hopefully) now healthy defense will bottle the scrambler the same way they did with Russell Wilson. The Chargers will prove to have too much firepower and beat the Niners 31-16.
Week 17- at Kansas City
This too could be a game with a playoff spot on the line. The Chiefs won’t be resting their starters this year. The Chiefs have the best home field advantage east of the Missouri river and San Diego has its history of troubles in that ballpark. Still, I don’t see the Chargers getting swept by any team in the AFC West so I expect a strong finish to the season and a playoff entry by way of a 20-14 win.
That’s right, I have the Chargers winning six of their last seven games. It’s easy to look at them after the past three games as the ‘same old Chargers’ but the name of the game is always injuries and now the Chargers are coming out on the right end of the injury equation just in time to make their playoff run. Rivers now has a running game that will free up receivers and enough big play performers on defense to give him short fields. I expect a fully bolted up unit coming out of the tunnel Sunday and while dismantling the Raiders won’t gather any national attention, knocking off playoff bound teams along the way will.
The Greg One
Every football media pundit on television lauds the NFC West as the by far best division in football. On some shows it has even been mentioned that the NFC West is the toughest division in sports regardless of the sport. While the NFC West is definitely the talk of the league division-wise, it is hardly a forgone conclusion that the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams are the best division in football.
The AFC West would beg to differ. While not as defensively dominant as the NFC West, the AFC West excels in the opposing category. The AFC West is the most offensively dominant division in football. The 1754 points scored by the AFC West teams best the closest division, the NFC North, by over 100 points (1,648). The NFC West led the league in fewest points allowed with a paltry 1,191. The next closest division was the NFC South with 1377 points allowed, a difference of 186.
The AFC and NFC West are the classic example of unstoppable force meets the immovable object.
That story played out in the last season’s Super Bowl as the highest scoring team in the league, the 13-3 Denver Broncos with 606 points scored faced the team that allowed the fewest points in the league, the 13-3 Seattle Seahawks with 231 points allowed. Both teams reached the same record in completely different fashions. Another old adage played out in this contest. Defense wins championships. The Seahawks embarrassed the Broncos 43-8, solidifying their season-long dominance with the Lombardi trophy. The win also put the NFC West as the best division going today.
But are they?
The NFC West was long the laughing-stock of the league until only three years ago. Keep in mind in 2010 the Seattle Seahawks created a national firestorm among football purists and analysts when they made the playoffs by winning the NFC West with a 7-9 record. It was during these three seasons that the NFC West rebuilt itself starting with the Rams drafting Sam Bradford in 2010. The 49ers drafted quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2011 draft. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was drafted in the 2012 draft. Add to the mix players that are now household names like Seattle’s Legion Of Boom members Walter Thurmond (2010), Earl Thomas (2010) and Richard Sherman (2011) or San Francisco’s Aldon Smith (2011) Navorro Bowman (2010) to show how this division has risen only after years upon years as the NFL’s doormat.
On the other hand, the AFC West has long had dominant teams represented with the exception of the 2008 and 2011 seasons when San Diego and Denver won the division with 8-8 records, respectively. In both cases, they won the wild card game and lost in the divisional round. League dominance by a division is cyclical. The last time the NFC West dominated the way they have been in present years was the Steve Young era 49ers in the 90’s. During the second half of that decade, the division also featured the Kurt Warner-led ‘Greatest Show On Turf’ St. Louis Rams team. Now the NFC West looks primed for another long run of dominance as players like Kaepernick and Wilson mature and the team around them gets better suited to their talents. The question is, at this point, are they that much better than the AFC West?
Take a look at the principal teams. In the NFC West you have Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona as the heavies while St.Louis toils away in the basement. In the AFC West you have Denver, San Diego and Kansas City jockeying for control with Oakland living in the cellar. The AFC West was the only division to get three teams in the playoffs last season. The NFC was close to getting three teams in as well as Arizona went 10-6 but failed to make the playoffs. Call them victims of circumstance, but the Cardinals did lose three games last season by a field goal including a loss to the lowly Rams in the season opener. The big three in NFC West had 2 more wins than the big three in the AFC West by a 35-33 margin. They were by far the top two divisions in the NFL when you take a win count of the top three teams. They may be lapping the rest of the league, but not each other.
Look at the starting quarterbacks. Representing the NFC West you have Wilson, Kaepernick and Carson Palmer representing the Cardinals. In the AFC West you have Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith. If you had to select one group of quarterbacks, team notwithstanding, to carry your team a for full season which group would you pick? The NFC group is the young upstarts, (Palmer notwithstanding) but Palmer is only in his second season in Arizona. The AFC West feature the proven quarterbacks. Manning and Rivers can light up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree. Kaepernick and Wilson are on the rise but their best days are ahead of them. The AFC West crop are winding down their careers but Manning and Rivers represent the most dangerous quarterback tandem in any division.
Leaving Palmer and Smith out of the formula for a moment, in Manning and Rivers you have two of the most cerebral quarterbacks in the league. Give them time and they will eat defenses for lunch. There’s nothing they haven’t seen and they are the old-fashioned stand in the pocket, lead-footed gunslingers that are fading out of style in the NFL. Instead, teams fancy the new breed of quarterback with Wilson and Kaepernick as the prime examples. They are quick to scramble to extend a play. They are also very intelligent, game managers. They capitalize on field position granted by their stalwart defenses. Manning and Rivers have rarely had the benefit of top five defenses, instead making their mark with their arms and their superior knowledge.
This season, these divisions will battle it out in the regular season and when the smoke clears two things will be evident. One, neither division will get three teams in the playoffs. Two, we’ll know which division is truly the best in football because as you can see, no other division comes close. However, to answer the pundits, the NFC West is not without a doubt the best division in the NFL. They may be in the lead as they can boast the current Super Bowl champion but not by far. The safer thing to say is the WEST is the best division in the NFL, regardless of conference. Will the unstoppable force or the immovable object come out on top this year? Let the games begin.
What do you think? Which division is better?
The Greg One